My First and Second Grades at Willshire Public School

This is Willshire Public School, the school I attended my first eight years.

Willshire Public School 1917

Willshire Public School, Willshire, Van Wert County, Ohio.

Last week someone on Facebook posted an old photo of my second grade class. Mrs. Marcella Schroeder was our teacher during that 1959-60 school year. The photo, shown below, shows our whole class sitting at our desks in our classroom. Of course the photo brought back many memories.

Second grade class, 1959-1960, Willshire Public School, Mrs. Marcella Schroeder, teacher.

Second grade class, 1959-1960, Willshire Public School, Mrs. Marcella Schroeder, teacher.

I have another photo just like it, of our first grade class, taught by Mrs. Opal Clouse. That was the 1958-59 school year. These class photos are nice and I wish I had some more from the other grades. [The names of the students are at the end of this post.]

We did not have a kindergarten class at Willshire. Instead we were put right in to the first grade. There were two first grades at Willshire at that time and Mrs. Fisher taught the other class. There was only one second grade so both first grades were combined for our second year.

First grade, 1958-59, Willshire Public School, Mrs. Opal Clouse, teacher.

First grade, 1958-59, Willshire Public School, Mrs. Opal Clouse, teacher.

As you can see, there are 19 pupils in my first grade photo and 39 in the second grade photo. Poor Mrs. Schroeder. That was a very large class for one teacher!

Our first grade classroom was across the hall from the second grade room. It wasn’t really a hall, but rather a big open area. The oiled wood floors creaked when you walked over them and large wooden staircases lead to the upper floor where the third and fourth grade classrooms were located. The stair steps bowed in the middle from the many years of student traffic.

Our first grade classroom was toward the front of the building, on the northwest side. There was a narrow cloakroom [aka coatroom] adjacent to our classroom, where we stored our coats, galoshes, and other winter gear. The girls wore dresses to school back then and in the winter we wore slacks under them to keep our legs warm. The slacks were often made of corduroy and we usually did not wear them when we were in class. I see that Sue Wolfe was wearing her plaid slacks in our second grade photo.

The photos reminded me that we tied our tennis shoes together and hung them from our desks. Nobody wore tennis shoes to school back then but we had to wear them on the gymnasium floor at gym time. We usually wore saddle shoes to school.

We had to crawl under our desk when we had a tornado drill. That was a tight squeeze.

We must have been doing our reading in Mrs. Clouse’s class because we all had our books open to the very same page. There are a number of toys in the photos, but I don’t remember playing with toys at school.

I did well in school but Mrs. Clouse gave me an S- in Attitude a couple times because she thought I talked too much. Imagine that! Me talking too much! Actually she should have known better than to put me in the back of the class, right across from Susie Brandt. Susie and I went to church together and we always had a lot to talk about. It was really hard to keep from talking.

Most of the kids in my first grade class were from Willshire or the area nearby, but a few of us were from the Chatt area. I notice that Mrs. Clouse put the Chatt kids together in the back of the room–Dave Stephenson, Cheryl Gilliland, and Donna Behm are back there with me. The other Chatt kids were in Mrs. Fisher’s class. There are eight Chatt-area students in the second grade photo: Carol Andrews, Nelda Leistner, Carla Hoblet, Cheryl Gilliland, Dave Stephenson, Debbie Carr, Donna Behm, and me. And of course Mrs. Schroeder lived right in downtown Chatt.

These are the only two classroom photos I have and I wish I had more. Maybe they only took them these two years. Someone probably has one from Mrs. Fisher’s first grade, 1958-59.

The old school building at Willshire was torn down in 2006. It would be interesting to walk through it again.

Names of the students in the photos:

First Grade, Willshire School, 1958-59, Mrs. Opal Clouse, teacher:
Row 1: Jim Huffine, Doug Carr, Dayle Hileman
Row 2: Chuck Myers, John Ridenour, Tamara Dellinger, Lana Lautzenheiser, Donna Behm
Row 3: Kenny Baylog, Chuck Painter, Darla Ross, Dave Stephenson, Cheryl Gilliland, Susie Brandt
Row 4: Joyce Webb, Nancy Stetler, Ray Gamble, Colette Geisler, Karen Miller
At the back: Mrs. Opal Clouse

Second Grade, 1959-60, Mrs. Marcella Schroeder, teacher:
Row 1: Karen Miller, Dave Stephenson, Darla Ross, Debbie Carr, Linda Duff, Donna Behm
Row 2: Sue Wolfe, Nancy Stetler, Bill Bates, Cheryl Gilliland, Chuck Painter, Joyce Webb, Gary Hamrick, Joyce Roehm
Row 3: Tamara Dellinger, Kenny Carmean, Sherry Hey, Doug Carr, Paula Clouse, Jim Huffine, Ray Gamble, Lana Lautzenheiser, Kenny Baylog
Row 4: Carol Andrews, Lynn Lough, Nelda Leistner, Chuck Myers, John Ridenour, Dayle Hileman, Jim Stuckey, Helen Boring
At the back of the room: Carla Hoblet, Mrs. Schroeder, Terry Harmon, Colette Geisler
To the left: Gary Moser, Charles Putman, Brent Whitacre, Susie Brandt, Steve Sipe


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    • Deb Reichard on February 27, 2015 at 6:09 am
    • Reply

    Please bring the class photos to the 45th class reunion in August. Would love to see the actual picture. I saw them on FB also. Hope you can attend the reunion. I am looking forward to it. Tom liked seeing the pictures as well as you know he also was a Willshire Public School student.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Deb Reichard

    1. I bet someone has a photo of the other first grade class, Mrs. Fisher’s class. I would love to have a scan of that, too. Does Tom have any of these class photos? I wonder how many years they took them and for which classes. I would think our family would have purchased other years, had they been available. Did they take photos like this at Rockford? I might be able to make our 45th reunion this year, since it is not the same weekend as our family reunion.

    • Trude Laffin on February 27, 2015 at 4:36 pm
    • Reply

    Enjoyed looking at these. I began teaching 4th grade at Willshire in l971. Opal had retired but subbed in our building. It was such a neat place to work. It was really sad when they tore it down. So many wonderful memories. I remember the cloakrooms, too. Our present schools could benefit from the size of those old classrooms. Nowadays our classrooms are rather small in comparison. Thanks for sharing.

    1. It was a special building and so many memories of the time there. Thanks for writing!

    • Mary Goodwin Haddad on February 28, 2015 at 11:29 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Karen, I was a 1959 graduate of Willshire High School, so I was leaving as you were coming. We were the first class that Mrs. Clouse taught. I think we were the first class that was divided into 2 classrooms. As the year started (fall 1958) there were 44 of us entering school, too many for 1 teacher. Mrs. Carm Marbaugh was that teacher and Mrs. Clouse was hired to help share that load.
    Those photos of your first and second grades were not the photos used in The Willow (yearbook). Each student in each class had individual photos taken. I was one of 3 editors (Jim Cowan and Jo (Allmandinger) Zelt also) for our yearbook and still have a copy. I can make a photo copy of both your classes for the first grade and send it to you, if you would like.

    1. Thank you for all the additional information! As luck would have it, I have every school yearbook except that first one, 1958-59. Yes, I would like to have a copy of both classes for that year, since you offered. I assume you are referring to the individual photos. Thank you so much!

    • John Vining on March 10, 2015 at 10:44 pm
    • Reply

    I was pretty well acquainted with those cloakrooms at the Willshire Elementary School. Back then, “being sent to the cloakroom” was similar to today’s “time outs” for kids. Mrs. Schroeder’s cloakroom was equipped with a kind of glassed-in bookcase near the door. I was such a regular inhabitant of the cloakroom that one day I came in from recess a little early, when no one else was in there, and rearranged some mirrors in that bookcase. That way when I made my inevitable next trip to the cloakroom (which would certainly occur in the next couple of days), I could look out into the classroom to see what the other kids were doing . I should have gotten at least an “S+” for industriousness to go along with my “S-” for classroom behavior!

    1. That is hilarious! And very clever. I wonder if she ever caught on.

    • Deanna Griffiths on January 11, 2017 at 2:09 pm
    • Reply

    Why do some of the kids in the First Grade picture have their shoes off? They seem to be tied to the desks. 🙂
    My name is Deanna Duff Griffiths. Linda Duff is my Aunt. Her brother, Jerry Duff, is my dad.

    1. Ha! That is a good question and I haven’t thought of this in years. I believe they all do have their shoes on but the shoes that are tied together and hanging from their desks are their tennis shoes. Back then we were not allowed to wear our street shoes on the gym floor so we kept our tennis shoes at our desks, to be worn during gym class. In those days we did not wear tennis shoes all the time like we do today. Your aunt Linda and I were friends all during school and we still correspond. I also remember your dad. Wat a small world! Thanks for reading and for writing!

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